Events will be taking place across the country on Saturday 26 February to encourage people to demand immediate action on the rising tide of crises in the NHS.
Where and When in Devon?
Barnstaple (11.00-14.00hrs High Street);
Exeter (11.00-14.00hrs Bedford Park);
Plymouth (12 noon Plymouth Hoe);
Torquay (12 noon Torbay Hospital (Lawes Bridge entrance));
Totnes (11:00am Totnes Hospital, Station Road entrance)
Check out the SOSNHS website https://sosnhs.org/ to see their demands, details for Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay and a list of events elsewhere.
BUT Even if you are reading this after 26 February, you can still take action.
See the website for what you can do.
Why is the NHS in Crisis?
- Services are no longer publicly owned and delivered
- Salaries are worth 15% less now than in 2010 on average
- Switching from a public service to a market-based model has
increased administration costs by over 400%
- More private hospitals have been built, taking healthcare staff away from NHS hospitals
- Replacing a national service with 42 separate and more complicated “Integrated Care Systems” has created a postcode lottery
- Too many beds have been closed (the UK has fewer hospital beds than most comparable countries according to the King’s Fund)
- Too many hospitals, A&Es, and wards have been closed
- Too many politicians believe that costs can be reduced by following the US models of care
- Too many politicians think the NHS is a business not a service
- Too many politicians listen to too many health insurance corporations
Why is failure happening?
The NHS has progressed to crisis point since the 2012 Act. Switching from publicly owned and delivered NHS services to a market system in 1990 increased the relative cost of running the service 4-fold; salaries for NHS staff have failed to keep pace with inflation, leaving nurses in particular 15% below their equivalent value in 2010; an ideological plan to keep people out of acute hospitals, reducing bed numbers, closing wards, and centralising services have all been part of a plan initiated in the last 10 years and pursued relentlessly by NHS England; the underlying plan is based on the US Accountable Care Organisations which are primarily about reducing cost rather than improving service.
In North Devon in particular but also in and other parts of the country it is difficult to recruit staff locally because of the housing crisis; employment contracts have worsened; nurses used to have accommodation provided whilst they were training and were paid for working on wards whilst they were training. Not any more thanks to George Osborne removing the bursary for student nurses. A semi u-turn means that student nurses now receive a grant of £5,000pa but that barely covers living costs and certainly not the university-course-based fees of £9500 pa. Nurses are now paying the state to train, rather than vice versa.
When the NHS was pretty much the sole provider of services there were shortages in certain disciplines at certain times but nothing like the crisis we have now. The difference is the rapid expansion of private hospitals. They take staff trained in the NHS.
And – most of all – how much NHS money has been siphoned off since 2012 by the explosion in QUANGOs, the recent creation of 42 top posts paying £280k per year? the requirement in Devon to reduce costs by closing services? What happened to health visitors? Early years care? Maternity services?
Currently, patients requiring routine surgery are frequently referred to private treatment centres. Those without complicated medical history, not requiring complex care or tests, are ‘cherry picked’ by the private sector, while those which do require additional monitoring or longer in-patient stay, and are more expensive to treat, go to NHS hospitals with multiple laboratories and staff who may be required to support their recovery. But payment for treatment is the same to both providers, despite the additional costs to the NHS
This effectively means less money for the NHS, slimming down public care to such a point that they will soon no longer be able to administer anything but the most basic treatments. Private hospitals will gradually ensure that anyone being treated by them pays and the money will go to their bosses and their shareholders
Privatisation is not a good thing for the NHS
The following from this website (https://konpoxfordshire.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/privatisation-why-its-bad-for-our-nhs.pdf) is a helpful explanation of why privatisation is NOT a good thing, despite many people saying they don’t mind who treats them as long as it is free at point of delivery. That is, to coin a phrase, no longer the point.
Hospitals are now forced to act like businesses. They now have a business– model contract in which they agree to deliver services for a defined treatment or episode of care for a specified amount of money. This means they often don’t have the funds and the necessary staff to respond to actual need. It also means that services have difficulty in responding to extra demand (winter epidemics, baby boom times, after floods), when they need flexible budgets, not cash limits.
So why are the government doing this?
Research studies all agree that a publicly run and publicly funded service for all is the most cost-effective.
So why does the UK government want private corporations to run England’s health service? The answer: that’s what corporations want.
Services are now more important than manufacturing in the push for corporate profit. Health is an immense service sector which, until recently, has been largely protected from the market. The government supports the business agenda here and it has set out to open up the NHS to the private market so that, like water, electricity, and gas, it can become an area for corporate investment and profit. ““Major US companies… have bought everything in North America and now American capital is looking at buying a lot of the assets in the UK and western Europe.”” [Vernon Baxter, Health Investor Magazine]
What’s wrong with the government’s neo-liberal pro-market argument?
The private market is not the solution for public health. There are many reasons, these include :
- A health service publicly owned and publicly run has only one goal, the health of the nation. A private healthcare company, like every private company, has one overriding goal, to make a profit for its shareholders.
- A privately run health service, since it is delivered by a number of different companies, creates a fragmented service, with differences in quality of service, in wages for staff, and so on.
- Well–established research has demonstrated that a publicly owned and publicly run health service is more efficient. A study of health systems in 2011 of 17 countries of the developed world showed that the publicly owned and publicly run NHS was the most efficient.* This research was carried out before Government introduced its Health and Social Care Act, 2012. The NHS no longer holds that position.
- Claims that the private market is the most rational and safe system for securing public well–being were disproved by the banking crisis when the most powerful and wealthy financial corporations had to be bailed out by public money.
- Most economists have always recognised that the market doesn’t work for everything: it’s known as ‘market failure’. The private US healthcare system is an example of market failure. Not a failure for the big health corporations, but a failure for ordinary people who are often bankrupted by massive health bills when their claims are rejected or health insurance denied. Over two thirds of US bankruptcies are as a consequence of medical bills.
- Private failure: One of the largest NHS ‘market’ contracts to date collapsed in 2015. The deal with Uniting Care Partnership to provide NHS care for older people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, worth almost £1 billion, failed after only 8 months, deemed “financially unsustainable”.
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